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Old 26th February 2024, 03:57 AM   #1
Jim McDougall
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Default Remarkable tulwar with unusual provenance

Some years ago, I won this remarkable tulwar example in auction. In the description it was noted as from the ROMAN BLACK collection. While I had no idea who this man was, I knew the tulwar was likely Rajput or Sikh and of forms usually associated with Udaipur (in Rajasthan) in as much local classification as typically can be achieved with these hilts.

The extremely sharp shamshir form blade (29") with the 'Indian ricasso' has the 'crows foot' cartouche .

For years I tried to find out who this guy was, to no avail. Then I found this book! Apparently an artist, anthropologist but with keen interest in aborigines of Australia.
Has anyone ever heard of Roman Black, and why an Indian tulwar in his 'collection' ?
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Old 26th February 2024, 10:01 AM   #2
Peter Hudson
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An amazing subject Jim, and what I have noticed is the pace and style of the modern web in accumulating details on The Tulwar. For this I add https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talwar

In this go to information display I draw attention to the excellent way References and Notes are added after the main body of work is delivered.

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Old 26th February 2024, 03:47 PM   #3
Tim Simmons
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The book looks very interesting.
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Old 26th February 2024, 04:35 PM   #4
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Thanks Tim, it is indeed most interesting and a most esoteric subject. It seems there is little ever discussed on the Aborigines in most of the venues I am familiar with.

Peter, thank you, it is truly amazing how far WIKI has come, and now is a more well regarded source of initial reference which is most helpful in researching virtually any topic.

This tulwar is a pretty formidable example and I had forgotten how intriguing it was, now seeing it after many years.
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Old 27th February 2024, 08:58 AM   #5
Ian
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
.. For years I tried to find out who this guy was, to no avail. Then I found this book! Apparently an artist, anthropologist but with keen interest in aborigines of Australia.
Has anyone ever heard of Roman Black, and why an Indian tulwar in his 'collection' ?
Jim, not to throw shade on your research, but there is also a prominent art dealer in London by the same name who runs the Roman Black Gallery. I don't know much about him. He used to have his gallery open to the public, but I think it is now just his main business office. Perhaps some of our British members may know more about him, and whether he collects edged weapons.
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Old 27th February 2024, 11:08 AM   #6
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The name is apparently unrelated to the subject ...

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Old 27th February 2024, 06:18 PM   #7
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Thanks guys, apparently this art dealer must have the same name but unclear if related. Our Roman Black was born in Poland in 1915 but moved to England in 1939, so doubtful if still surviving. Online it says the location is no longer a gallery but an office for online dealings.

He was a member of the Royal Society of British Artists as well as National Society of Painters and Sculptors, so clearly established in the field.

Unfortunately the name Roman Black online has become 'term oriented' and results, no matter how specifically qualified come back (and not meaning any disrespect or humor) with Blacks in Roman history or Black Italians etc. The term 'black' dominates in every angle as racial, so its application as a surname as far as I could reach is pretty hopeless, especially with Roman attached.
More confusing, the biography on the leaf of the book jacket says he served with French army in WWII, but he was living in England.
He THEN went into British merchant navy on 4 mast sailing ship?

This is a conundrum, but as always, "...curiouser and curiouser" !!
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Old 27th February 2024, 10:22 PM   #8
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I was very impressed by Matt Eastons description of the Tulwar sword...Please see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BoKUfaorJ0
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Old 29th February 2024, 12:15 AM   #9
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Peter, what an outstanding video, and Matt Easton is a great speaker making things so clear, while illustrating with actual examples.

I believe this 'diamond hilt' form is from Udaipur in Rajasthan, probably Rajput, late 18th into 19th c. and the cartouche with lines resembles one on the blade of a Mughal example (Rawson, 1970, plate 44) . While the Mughal hilt does have the turn back swans neck knuckleguard, it does not have the 'sharp' character of this Rajput example.

The florets in the steel decoration, the 'stem' from the pommel disc, the long squarish langet, and unusual discoid quillon terminals all seem to emphasize Rajput, and certainly a high end example.

This deeply inset circular cartouche seems to appear on tulwar blades which do appear to be of Rajasthani type. While this blade has the distinctive 'Indian ricasso' it is nicely curved, and with shamshir character, extremely sharp to very sharp point.

With Matt Eastons demonstration in the video you can see how this tulwar was designed for the draw cut he describes. The 'diamond' grip fits the hand perfectly, with the forefinger wrapped around the quillon, to firmly control the arc of the sword cut.
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